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Cultural Studies / Gender & Sexuality / Urban Studies / American Studies

Sex and Isolation
And Other Essays
Bruce Benderson
Foreword by Catherine Texier

Iconoclastic opinions on art, fashion, writing, sex, and urban politics from a cunning cultural observer, essayist, journalist, and novelist

Winner of France's 2004 Prix de Flore for his memoir The Romanian: Story of an Obsession, Bruce Benderson has gained international respect for his controversial opinions and original take on contemporary society. In this collection of essays, Benderson directs his exceptional powers of observation toward some of the most debated, as well as some of the most neglected, issues of our day.

In Sex and Isolation, readers will encounter eccentric street people, Latin American literary geniuses, a French cabaret owner, a transvestite performer, and many other unusual characters; they'll visit subcultures rarely described in writing and be treated to Benderson's iconoclastic opinions about culture in former and contemporary urban society. Whether proposing new theories about the relationship between art, entertainment, and sex, analyzing the rise of the Internet and the disappearance of public space, or considering how religion and sexual identity interact, each essay demonstrates sharp wit, surprising insight, and some startling intellectual positions.

This is the first American volume of Benderson's collected essays, featuring both new work and some of his best-known writings, including his famous essay "Toward the New Degeneracy."

"In our boastfully casual clothes, we now go about lives programmed for drabness, like stunted pilgrims in a Protestant community devoid of libidinal expression. Our alibi? That fashion was once a harmful way of distinguishing the rich from the poor. That merchandising is part of the delirious Spectacle designed to keep us enslaved."
—excerpt from "Fear of Fashion"

"When it comes to discussing outsider culture, academics have invented distanced cynical terms like 'performance' or 'transgression.' Giving voice to the reality of poverty in all its lustiness, energy, and degradation has become taboo, and it is actually considered a blight to a poor person's integrity to tell the reality of his cultural experience."
—excerpt from "Toward the New Degeneracy"

This is a photo of Benderson. He is not wearing a shirt, and appears from the waist up behind a bar or pipe inin a room that is painted institutional yellow. Bruce Benderson is the author of seven books, including The Romanian: Story of an Obsession, User, and Pretending to Say No. He has contributed articles to New York Times Magazine, Village Voice, nest, Paris Vogue, Blackbook, Libération, and other media. An accomplished translator and bilingual author, he has also taught creative writing, urban culture, and French literature at colleges throughout the United States. He divides his time between New York and Paris.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

the cover of Benderson's book is illustrated with a photo of a woman pretending to cut up a plateful of jewelry with a knife and fork. Plate is white, Title of book is red and black, set in ransom style.

November 2007

LC: 2007011727 HQ
208 pp.  6 x 9

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Paper $24.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-22314-4
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Wisconsin print edition and e-book edition only available in North America.

Sex and Isolation
Fear of Fashion
Surrendering to the Spectacle
America's New Networkers
Tel Quel's Gaudy Harlequin
The Spider Woman's Mother
Montmartre's Blue Angel
A Champion in Times Square
The Not-So-Secret Life of Consuela Cosmetic
Toward the New Degeneracy

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Updated June 7, 2012

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